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Drone aircraft bill passes Wisconsin Senate


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill that would limit the use of drone aircraft. Senator Jerry Petrowski from Marathon says the bill is an effort to help protect privacy and keep up with new technology.

Petrowski says the bill had to define several things and outline when the use of drones is appropriate, because this is relatively new technology and hasn’t been addressed before. “It basically says that no law enforcement agency may use a drone that is equipped with video or audio recording equipment to collect evidence or information in a criminal investigation without first obtaining a search warrant. There’s some provisions in here that are basically exemptions when they’re dealing with escaped prisoners, a search and rescue mission, or a place where people are in imminent danger.”

The drone bill would also prevent private citizens from recording audio or video in situations where the subject can expect privacy.

Petrowski says the legislation also addresses how to handle criminal acts conducted by drone aircraft. “There’s also another part of the bill I think that’s real important. If a drone is designed (for weapons), or if a person who sells or possesses a weaponized drone, they’re guilty of a class “H” felony, and that carries with it a substantial fine and substantial jail time, or both.”

The bill has been sent to the State Assembly for their consideration.

(Listen to our interview with Senator Jerry Petrowski on our website, here)